Inside The Birds: Competition To Heat Up At LB, Secondary
As training camp is now less than two weeks away, the Eagles are gearing up for some important competition that will determine who makes the 53-man roster.
On the latest Inside The Birds, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan discuss defensive training camp battles and touch on joint practices later this summer.
Adam Caplan: “Ridgeway, they acquired him in 2019. He’s had a bunch of injuries, he hasn’t played very much, but I know in training camp they’ve felt he’s done pretty well. So, to me, right now if this season started today, Ridgeway would be the three. Here’s a couple questions here: Will they keep four tackles or five? That’s certainly a fair question. And then if they only keep four, is there anyone in nickel that they can slide somebody inside if they needed to so they can have positional versatility? Yeah. Josh Sweat had played inside before and Graham has played inside before.”
Geoff Mosher: “Look, I can’t imagine Eric Wilson isn’t starting or isn’t making the team. He’s really their only linebacker that has the coverage acumen you would say that Jonathan Gannon probably wants out of this kind of a defense.”
Caplan: “It’s interesting, though, [Greg] Cosell said that he thought that Singleton did a good job of coverage last season. I remember talking to him about that privately, he really grew on him. So, theoretically as we get through this at linebacker, they’re going to be a nickel team, they’re going to be a 4-2-5 team. That’s what we’ve heard pretty consistently since February. Wilson and Singleton would make the most sense. The one lock is Wilson. After that, is Singleton a lock to be a starter? I’d say pretty good probability, but the question is: If you’re not saying he’s a lock then who else could possibly take the job? I don’t know.”
Caplan: “I remember when they drafted him, as much criticism as we gave the pick at the time, I did say this and it’s still true: If he can make it as their nickel linebacker it’s a home run, because that’s why they drafted him, to be a nickel linebacker. Plus, if he could play in dime, be the single linebacker down the road …. but that’s pie in the sky. If this thing works out, I’ll give Eagles credit. If he’s a nickel linebacker by Year 3, home run. But if he can’t get on the field not only this season, the second year, but Year 3, it’s probably going to be a miss.”
Caplan: “I think with McPhearson, I just know how much they like this kid. He’s a pretty sharp kid and I think he’s gonna win this [battle] if they don’t get [Steven] Nelson.”
Mosher: “I could see that but they usually make these guys work for it, like they don’t on the first day of practice take a fourth-round pick and say, ‘Here, you’re going to start at corner’ just to see what you’ve got.’ Usually they make these guys climb a little bit.”
Caplan: “I agree, but I think in the end game, in the three weeks until training camp, three preseason games and two combined practices, I think Zech MacPherson will wind up starting if they do not get Steven Nelson – or trade for someone. But they do say they’re going to do something at some point. They’re not panicking. As Howie Roseman said in his press conference he reminded everybody about Ronald Darby. I think that was a pretty good nugget that they’re going to do something without giving it away who that’s going to be.”
Caplan: “The battle to me is who’s going to be that first safety off the bench? If they want to play big nickel which is three safeties, who’s that first guy?”
Mosher: “Yeah, who is that first guy? That might be situational as well, [K’Von] Wallace is more of a guy who can come down and make a tackle, stop the run. I know he didn’t show it as much last year but that was the book on him. [Marcus] Epps is supposed to be a little bit better in the pass game coverage as a post safety, so we’ll see there. Andrew Adams has played but he’s mainly a special teams guy. This is a position where the coaches really have to cross their fingers and hope there are no major injuries because you can get to the bottom of the barrel quickly if you have more than one injury. Especially if [Rodney] McLeod is not ready to come back by the opener and Anthony Harris limps off the field and then you’re down to K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps and one backup in Andrew Adams.”
– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to InsideTheBirds.com.
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